Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Give 'em hell, Steve McGonigle!

Even though he had a good job and was making good money, Steve McGonigle, a painter at Nova, fought alongside the other workers for decent wages and a voice on the job. On February 19, he found himself fired along 107 of his colleagues (in this picture, taken on that day, Steve is the tall guy at the back, with grey hair).

Yesterday Steve, who has been working tirelessly to see justice done at Nova, appeared in front of Broward commissioner and asked that they pull NSU funds. The Miami Herald covered it:

Activist urges penalty for NSU

A fired painter active in the drive to organize janitors at Nova Southeastern University urged Broward County commissioners to take action against the school, whose decision to switch maintenance contractors squelched the fledgling union.

Steve McGonigle hinted that commissioners could use the power of the purse to respond to Nova, located in Davie. The county pays at least 40 percent of operating costs for the library each year -- likely $5 million to $6 million in 2007-08.

''Nova has no problem coming to taxpayers when they are looking for money but don't have any problem stomping on the workers and low-wage earners,'' said McGonigle, of Tamarac.

The union has said about 100 low-wage workers lost their jobs earlier this year after Nova switched janitorial contracts.

County commissioners have said they will take a closer look at the arrangement with Nova in the coming months, during budget planning. But if Broward cuts off funds, the public would loses access. Most library users are county residents who are not enrolled and Nova employees, according to the university.

Nearly all of the county commissioners have publicly criticized Nova's administration, including its president, Ray Ferrero Jr.

Commissioners Stacy Ritter and John Rodstrom said that, as Nova law school graduates, they are embarrassed by their alma mater.

''I think the commission is quite surprised that such an institution with such a formerly good reputation would decide to do something like this,'' Commissioner Sue Gunzburger said. ``The other university in Miami, they found a solution.''

(link to herald article)

Steve is in for the long haul. Here is what he wrote in an email yesterday:

I have been hearing rumblings that Mr. Ray Ferrero wants to invite us to breakfast and have a job fair on our behalf. He states that he will do anything to help us find work. Why won’t he give us our jobs back? It would be easy on him if he found us other jobs, that way we would go away and he will not have to deal with us, the Union, and the realization that he has violated our rights to organize and, in my own words, “union-busted”. As a past president stated, “Those who would destroy, or further limit, the rights of organized labor – those who cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized – do a disservice to the cause of democracy”. This quote describes what is being done to us; Mr. Ferrero has tried to destroy us, violated our rights to organize, tried to prevent the organization of the unorganized, and is doing a disservice to the cause of democracy, but he does not realize that a breakfast isn’t the food we need. The food we need is to be back at our jobs, providing for our families, and having respect on the job. I do not think that is too much to ask. To be treated like a human being.

The longer this goes on the more support we will get, we will not go away, we will get stronger. And as I told the Broward County Commissioners this morning, “I am a firm believer that the squeaky wheel gets the oil." I am going to keep on squeaking until we get the oil we need.




Anonymous said...

Steve we need some one like you here in Denton,Co.